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Genesis 17:15

And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 

Once again, God added a “hey” (“h”) to a name. (Read: Abram to Abraham – A New Name for a New Man).  By changing Sarai’s name to Sarah, God added His breath into her name — making her a new woman with a new name.

Genesis 17:16

And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 

Sarai means “honored mother,” but Sarah means “princess,” or more accurately “mother of a ruler of nations.”  Again, God is signifying that He has chosen both Abram and Sarai (now Abraham and Sarah) for His service, and specifically for His purposes.  These name changes are symbolically important.

Genesis17:17-18

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?  18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

At first, Abraham laughed at the thought that he could father a son at nearly 90 years of age, and that Sarah, being 79 and post-menopausal, could conceive and give birth. So it seemed impossible to Abraham. But we know, just as Jesus said, “with God all things are possible” (Mat 19:26).

Genesis:17:19

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.  

God’s response to Abraham was to tell him that what He had foretold would come to pass.  The son of the promise would come through Sarah. And through that son would come the generation that would inherit the covenantal promises. And God decreed that his name would be “Isaac,” which means laughter (a reminder that his conception seemed ridiculous but through him would come great joy).

God Blessed Ishmael

Genesis 17:20-22 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.  21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.  22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

God reaffirmed His promise to take care of Ishmael and to make him fruitful and prosperous.  But the son of the promise would come through Sarah by the divine providence of God and by His miraculous work. 

Abraham Obeyed God

Genesis 17:23-27   And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.  24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.  27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

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